Australia: Cast iron ovens, Spotlight, Le Creuset and Harris Scarfe ranging from $24 and $550

Home cooks are struggling to spot the difference between three trendy cast iron pots, with prices ranging from $24 to $550.

One woman, from Melbourne, asked fellow shoppers whether there was a difference between cheap and expensive Dutch and French oven pots.

She shared a picture on social media showing three casserole pots that look almost identical – but each come with very different price tags.

Spotlight’s cast iron pot was on sale for $24, a version from Harris Scarfe cost $59.97, while the luxury Le Creuset casserole retailed at an eye-watering $550.

Home cooks are struggling to spot the difference between three trendy cast iron pots, with prices ranging from $24 to $550. 

The difference between cheap and expensive cast iron pots

Cast iron pots from cheap and expensive brands come with a huge price difference – but what’s the difference?

Australian consumer experts CHOICE found the enamel lining inside of the cheaper pots ‘significantly discoloured over time’.

‘I have noticed that after a year they did lose the smooth interior coating which helps to prevent sticking of food,’ kitchen expert Fiona Mair said.

In contrast, a high-end Dutch oven can last you 20 years or more before it shows signs of wear and tear, even becoming a family heirloom. 

Le Creuset usually comes with lifetime guarantees, so you can always replace if you have issues.

Many explained the differences between the trio, with one saying: ‘It’s the lids. The better the top, the more you pay.’

Another shopper said she owns a Chasseur pot, which cost between $259 and $429, and a cheap model from Target.

‘Both are good but the main differences I find with the Target one is the lid doesn’t seal as well so it’s not as good for slow cooking,’ she explained. 

One woman – who owned ‘many brands of cast iron pots’ – explained why ‘you get what you pay for’. 

‘I have bought so many brands of cast iron pots. I have used my Le Creuset for more than 10 years and no problems at all. It may seem expensive but they are fantastic quality. The cheaper brands would begin cracking after a few years,’ she said.

Another woman said: ‘There’s definitely a difference. A good one will be able to be passed down for generations. Having said that, I’ve never been able to afford the good ones and I have the Aldi version and it’s amazing.’ 

The three casserole pots look almost identical - but each come with very different price tags. Spotlight's cast iron pot was on sale for $24, a version from Harris Scarfe cost $59.97, while the luxury Le Creuset casserole retailed at an eye-watering $550

The three casserole pots look almost identical – but each come with very different price tags. Spotlight’s cast iron pot was on sale for $24, a version from Harris Scarfe cost $59.97, while the luxury Le Creuset casserole retailed at an eye-watering $550

While one added: ‘I have Aldi, Baccarat and Le Creuset. The Aldi worked okay but the interior stained quickly. I’d say there is less difference between the other two but the super expensive ones give you bragging rights more than anything.’

Those who have been cooking with the cheaper pots claimed they have worked just as well as the expensive brands.

‘I have a small vintage one from my grandmother and a larger one from Aldi. Both are amazing and work the same,’ one woman said. 

A photography director – who owns almost 30 cast iron pieces – told Chicago Tribune the difference between cheap and expensive models is the finish.

The cheaper pots typically have a ‘rough, sandpapery surface’, while the high-end brands produce ‘glossy, smooth-polished’ products. 

‘Cheaper brands have a rougher finish because they skip a step in the traditional manufacturing of cast iron cookware: the time-consuming grinding process that produces the ideal polish,’ the director said.

Earlier this year, consumer experts from CHOICE praised a $29 cast iron casserole pot from Kmart (left) that rivals high-end French brand Le Creuset (right) costing upwards of $529

Earlier this year, consumer experts from CHOICE praised a $29 cast iron casserole pot from Kmart (left) that rivals high-end French brand Le Creuset (right) costing upwards of $529

One home cook who owned a Le Creuset pot was stunned after she made a 'fluffy and crusty' sourdough in a $29 casserole pot from Kmart (pictured)

One home cook who owned a Le Creuset pot was stunned after she made a ‘fluffy and crusty’ sourdough in a $29 casserole pot from Kmart (pictured)

What makes Kmart’s $29 cast iron casserole pot special?

With a $29 price tag, Kmart’s cast iron casserole pot can be cooked on all types of heat sources just like world-famous brand Le Creuset.

The budget buy has an ‘exceptional heat retention’ that allows slow cooking and keeping foods moist and tender.

Other features include an enamel interior, easy cleaning and it’s safe to use in ovens, and all types of cooktops.

Earlier this year, Australian consumer experts from CHOICE praised a $29 cast iron casserole pot from Kmart that rivals Le Creuset’s versions costing up to $529.

Despite a huge $500 price difference, the budget buy performed ‘comparatively well’ when the experts put market-leading cast iron pots to the test. 

‘Kmart’s cast iron casserole pot was up there with big-name brands such as Le Creuset, Chasseur and Staub when we tested casserole pots and Dutch ovens,’ the experts claimed.

The cheaper version scored a stellar 95 per cent in the bolognese sauce test.

‘We use this to assess the Dutch oven’s ability to slow cook while maintaining low temperature for a long period of time and its ability to brown meat evenly,’ they said.

Choice’s kitchen expert Fiona Mair offered her review after giving her Kmart Dutch oven a ‘good workout’ over the past five years.

‘I have noticed that after a year [it] did lose the smooth interior coating which helps to prevent sticking of food such as rice or pasta. If I’m cooking a soup or casserole I have to stir it constantly, even on a simmer, to ensure it doesn’t stick,’ she explained.

Fiona said over time, the staining becomes more obvious, making it trickier to clean.

But despite the downside, she said the budget pots are cheap enough to replace every few years – and they are recyclable.

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